StrictlyVC: July 21, 2015

Hi, everyone! If you missed yesterday’s newsletter, we had a little news about a.) going on vacation and b.) our upcoming event in September. (You can read about both here.)


Top News in the A.M.

Chip maker Qualcomm is reportedly considering a breakup after an activist investor pushed for change, says the WSJ. It’s also preparing to lay off 10 percent of its 30,000-person workforce, reports The Information. (Subscription required.)

Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, including Facebook, Google, Dell, and eBay, have joined the patent war between Apple and Samsung. More here.


Y Combinator Unveils Its Newest Program

For better or worse, Y Combinator is putting the pedal to the metal.

On the heels of some of its biggest classes to date, the well-known accelerator yesterday introduced yet another new program. That initiative? The YC Fellowship program.

The broad strokes are as follows: About 20 teams that are “very, very early” and haven’t yet received funding elsewhere will be chosen by Y Combinator to receive a $12,000 grant. The teams can be based anywhere.

Much more here.


New Fundings

Apprenda, an eight-year-old, Troy, N.Y.-based startup that helps companies create, update, and manage private and public cloud-based applications, has raised $24 million in Series D funding led by Safeguard Scientifics, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and Ignition Partners. The company has now raised $56 million altogether. More here.

Booktrack, a five-year-old, Auckland, New Zealand-based startup that creates soundtracks to accompany e-books, has raised $5 million in funding led by COENT Venture Partners and earlier backer Sparkbox Ventures. Other previous investors include Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Productions. The company has now raised $10 million to date. TechCrunch has more here.

KFit, a months-old, Kuala Lumpur-based startup that — like its U.S. peer, ClassPass — aims to make gyms and fitness more accessible in the region for one monthly membership, has raised $3.25 million in funding led by Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Homer Logistics, a year-old, New York-based food delivery logistics company, is closing in on a $2 million convertible note seed round, including from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, Vayner RSERugged VC and Haystack. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

Luxexcel, a six-year-old, Netherlands-based company that’s able to 3D print functional lenses, has raised €7.5 million ($8.1 million) in Series B funding led by the Flemish investment company PMV, with participation from earlier backers SET Ventures and Munich Venture Partners. More here.

Medallia, a 14-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that make SaaS customer experience management software, has raised $150 million in new funding from Sequoia Capital, which has led numerous rounds in the company previously. (According to Crunchbase, Sequoia is the company’s only institutional investor, in fact.) Medallia, which has raised $255 million altogether, is now valued at $1.25 billion, reports Venture Capital Dispatch.

One Animation, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based CG animation studio with a portfolio of children’s titles, has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding led by earlier investor Jungle Ventures, with particiption from numerous individual investors. The company has now raised at least $12.9 million altogether, reports DealStreetAsia.

SemaConnect, a seven-year-old, Bowie, Md.-based provider of commercial electric vehicle charging stations and software, has raised $15 million in new funding led by Pear Tree Partners. Crunchbase shows the company has now raised at least $26.3 million to date.

Sleepace, a four-year-old, Shenzhen, China-based company whose smart sleep monitor rests under a bed sheet to monitor the quality of a customer’s sleep, has raised $7 million in Series B funding from Luolai Home Textile and the business-to-consumer e-commerce company JD. The company had previously raised $3.2 million in Series A funding from Gobi Partners. The outlet e27 hasmore here.

Zimplistic, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based product design company that specializes in smart kitchen devices that automate cooking, has raised $15 million in Series B funding, including from Robert Bosch Venture Capital and an unnamed local venture capital firm. Zimplistic’s flagship product is an automatic roti prata maker. DealStreetAsia has more here.


New Funds

.406 Ventures, a 10-year-old, Boston-based venture firm that focuses exclusively on enterprise-related opportunities, has closed its third fund with $217 million. The total is slightly more than the firm assembled for its first two funds, closed in 2006 and 2011, respectively, with $169 million and $175 million. That’s by design, says senior associate Payal Agrawal Divakaran, who joined the firm five weeks ago, after nabbing a degree from Harvard Business School. “The goal is to invest in roughly 20 companies in each fund, through initial checks of between $2 million and $5 million,” with some multiple of that reserved for follow-on funding, she says. More here.



Payment processing giant First Data is looking to go public again. More here.


EBay is is aquiring the second-hand clothing company Twice, which runs an online consignment shop, reports Recode. Terms of the deal aren’t known (yet); Twice had raised roughly $23 million from investors, including Felicis Ventures, IA Ventures, Upfront Ventures and many others.

FanDuel, the fantasy sports startup that recently raised $275 million in Series E funding, is using some of that capital to acquire the eight-year-old, Scotland-based app business TechCrunch has more here.



Apple has recruited Doug Betts, who led global quality at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles until last year. The company is declining to offer further specifics (though everyone assumes the hire has to do with its electric car plans). The WSJ has the story here.

Niko Bonatsos, who joined General Catalyst Partners as a principal early 2011, is transitioning into the role of full-time venture partner, a move that will see him “write a bunch of checks in exciting new companies.” As for whether it also signals that Bonatsos — who has introduced Snapchat and other potentially lucrative deals to General Catalyst — may be planning his own fund or contemplating a startup, he tells us he is not, that he still very much likes GC, adding, “I love the opportunity we have ahead of us.”

Evernote, the company behind the popular cloud-based productivity app of the same name, has a new CEO: Chris O’Neill, who recently ran the business operations at the Google X research unit. O’Neill replaces longtime CEO Phil Libin, who will remain as executive chairman. Recode has the story here.

Conversations with more than a dozen people who know Google’s Chief Business Officer Omid Kordestani reveal that there are two primary reasons why he is back in the leadership seat. Recode has more here.

Investors Ashton Kutcher, Chris Sacca and Troy Carter will join the show “Shark Tank” in its next season as guest stars. More here.



Learn Capital, a venture firm focused primarily on ed tech, is looking to hire ananalyst. The job is in San Mateo, Ca.



From the New York Times: “Twice as many Chinese investors have participated in $100 million or larger fund-raising rounds in China than American investors have in China. [Some of] these companies are now called unicorns. In 2014, 13 new unicorns were created by private investment in Asia compared with 30 in North America, according to CB Insights. So far this year, Asia has generated 11 unicorns to North America’s 19.” More here.


Essential Reads

Without warning, Twitter removed wallpapers from users’ home and notifications timelines on yesterday, and they’re none too pleased.

Many top YouTube creators are keeping Facebook at arm’s length — if they even bother with the social network at all. More here.



If Frank Gehry made sand castles.

The world’s first airport terminal for pets (looks a whole lot nicer than any terminal to which we’ve been relegated).

This is scary.


Retail Therapy

Tree snake houses. (Neat.)

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